New Zealand bets on PPPs with new commission

The entity will work alongside Crown Infrastructure Partners, a $434m government fund to promote private investments in the country’s infrastructure.

The New Zealand government is creating a National Infrastructure Commission to accelerate the country’s PPP programme, part of the NZ$32.5 billion ($23.5 billion; €19.7 billion) it has earmarked for infrastructure spending over the next four years. 

The new entity will be responsible for expanding the number of PPPs procured in a bid to build new schools, hospitals and roads more quickly. It will collate and promote the country’s national and regional infrastructure pipelines with major local and international construction firms. 

“PPPs are very effective at getting quality long-lasting infrastructure built more quickly and using private capital to stretch the country’s capital budget so we get more built,” said a government spokesman.

The NIC is the result of two merged Treasury units, with an additional NZ$2.5 million a year in government funding for operations. It will work alongside the government’s recently established Crown Infrastructure Partners fund, seeded in July with NZ$600 million of public money, “which will jointly invest with councils and private companies in […] local roads, water networks and the ultra-fast broadband programme”, the spokesman said.

Some of the initial PPP projects being considered include a NZ$50 million rebuild of Whangarei Boys High School, a NZ$1.7 billion project to modernise and upgrade defence bases throughout the country, and the recently announced NZ$1.4 billion re-development of Dunedin Hospital. The NZ$1.9 billion East West Link project, as well as a new 1,500-bed Waikeria Prison, are also part of the PPP project pipeline. 

In addition to the NZ$32.5 billion to be invested in infrastructure over the next four years, the government needs to spend a further NZ$40 billion during that time period, the spokesman said. Part of the commission’s job will be to help build a project pipeline ahead of further spending.